Domestic Violence in North Carolina: Understanding the Basics

Are you a victim of domestic violence? If so, you should know first and foremost, that you are not at fault.  You should also know that you are not alone.  On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year alone, this amounts to more than 10 million people. Domestic violence is a terrible reality that is experienced by far too many people every day.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you should know that you are absolutely not trapped in this situation, even if it may feel that you are. You have options available to you under the law, and you should use them. While criminal charges can certainly be brought against those committing acts of domestic violence, there are also important civil actions that victims can take to protect themselves as well. You should certainly use every legal measure available to secure your safety. One measure commonly used by victims of domestic violence is securing a restraining order against the abusive partner.

Obtaining a Restraining Order

Essentially, a restraining order is an order, issued by a court at the request of a victim, directing the abusive person to comply with certain court-ordered behaviors. Often, victims of domestic violence seek these orders to ensure that they have space and safety from the abuser. When a court enters a restraining order, violating that order is considered a crime, and violators can be punished accordingly.

It should be acknowledged that the terminology used with respect to restraining orders can be somewhat confusing. You may hear the terms protective order, 50-B order, emergency protective order – all are used to refer to the same process that results in a restraining order. All of these terms ultimately refer to orders that you can request from the court when you are in fear for your safety. The question is, how exactly should you go about doing that?

To obtain a restraining order for domestic violence in North Carolina, you must prove two things:

  • That you are closely related to the abuser: This could mean proving that you are married, that you used to be married, that you live together or used to live together, that you are in a romantic relationship, or that you have children together. Establishing that one of these relationships exists is necessary to file for a domestic violence restraining order, along with establishing that;
  • An act of domestic violence has occurred: Proving that an act of domestic violence has occurred could mean proving that some physical harm has occurred, or that you have been placed in fear of imminent serious bodily harm.

If you can prove these two elements, you will have a good chance of obtaining a domestic violence restraining order from the court. When a court issues a restraining order, it can take any number of actions in connection with that order. It can evict the abuser from the home, and it can restrain the abusive person from being near you at home, work, or any other place that you specify. The court may also grant you temporary child custody and order the abusive person to stay away form the children, as well as order temporary support, or the temporary transfer of property, as it sees fit.

Restraining orders typically last for up to a year, after which time additional action can be taken, and more permanent orders can be entered. Although they are only temporary in nature, restraining orders can be tremendously helpful in giving victims of domestic violence time to regroup, and plan for the next chapter of life, which will hopefully be healthier and happier.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may, understandably, feel trapped. You may even feel afraid to take steps to leave the situation, because you worry for your safety, and the safety of your children. It is important to realize though, that the legal system is here to help you – there are mechanisms in place which you can, and should use to protect yourself and those you love. Support is also available from psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and from friends and family who love you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for that help, whenever you need it.

Contact the Law Office of Dustin McCrary for Additional Help

If you, or someone you love, is the victim of domestic violence, the first and most important thing that you can do is seek safety. Before you worry anything about else, you should ensure that you find a safe place, for yourself, and for anyone else who you love that may be in danger. After doing so, you can concentrate on the other details. When you’re ready to do that, we’re here for you. If you need additional information about domestic violence and how it may affect or be a part of your divorce process, you can find more details on our website, or by contacting our office. We are here to help you through the divorce process, and that includes helping you to address issues that arise during your divorce as a result of domestic violence. Call us soon – we’re here for you.

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